Looming Shadow Of Frankenstein Food

Should genetically modified (GM) soy beans be coming to a grocery shelf near you? That is the question Food Standards Australia is posing to “individuals and organisations with an interest in the regulation of food …”

Pioneer Hi-Bred International, a DuPont business based in Iowa, has been fingered as the one pushing for an amendment to Australia’s current food standards code so that products using their proprietary GM soy beans can be sold here. Iowa? That’s Iowa USA.! Not a state from this wide brown land last time I looked.

Last I looked we were one of the pink coloured bits of real estate on your Mercator’s map. The USA gave up that rosie colour-coding when they developed their appalling tea-making skills in Boston Harbour 236 years ago. Iowa, interestingly, has as its floral emblem — a wild rose … that’s a wild rose … not a GM rose!

Already the first GM crops of canola grown in Australia have been harvested and there is much lobbying from certain quarters in the non-GM states to embrace the herbicide-proof seed. And we can expect more vigorous agitation in that direction now that the EU has announced that it has approved the importation of GM canola.

There are lobby groups either side of the GM camp — all with plausible arguments. But the jury is still out on the effects on non GM plantings and cross-species contamination.

The pivotal sticking point is the irreversibility of GM crop planting. “Several weeds (wild radish, wild turnip and charlock) to which canola is related grow widely in our environment. Canola and these weeds can exchange pollen and genes so the weeds would soon acquire GM herbicide tolerance and become a permanent reservoir of contamination.” And no-one has been able to impose a moratorium on the birds and the bees not to participate in the cross-pollination of GM crops with non GM crops.

Then there is the ransom to which the GM chemical companies hold farmers over the use of proprietary GM seeds for what the green movement has called Frankenstein food.

Mary Shelley’s monster at least knew when to push-off and stop tainting the natural order of things. Have your say by 1 May 2009. www.foodstandards.gov.au

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